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"The 9 weeks I spent on camp each year of my 3 summers was near enough the only ever time where I could completely let go, be myself and have an incredible time, while making a bunch of amazing new friends."
I was just about to finish university and wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. But I did know I had always wanted to take part in Camp America because I wanted the opportunity to make a difference to kids lives, as well as ticking off some locations on my bucket list!
My placement process happened all online. I made sure that I completed the application as thoroughly as possible, got my video uploaded, and made sure I booked my interview as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I was working during the London recruitment fair, and eventually ended up on the RSG programme. Soon after, I was contacted by a camp and hired after a phone interview. From there on, the rest of the process was made extremely easy by Camp America. I just followed the steps all the way up to my departure date.
My favourite thing about the US is the hospitality and friendliness of people when I was travelling. Americans are very proud of their country, and they love the fact someone has come to visit it, so nothing is ever too much when it comes to service and helping.
No matter how ‘out there’ and silly you may act, it’s never seen as being weird. It’s just seen as getting in to the camp spirit and having fun. This meant that my summer job was nothing like I’ve ever had before. It meant what I was doing, despite the long hours and major responsibility, not actually seem like work. It’s the best job I’ve ever had and nothing will ever quite match up to it!
Nobody is too cool for camp! Don’t go thinking you won’t get involved in certain things. Go with an open mind and have a go at everything that is offered to you, whether it’s a different sport/activity or jumping on top of a table and showing off your best dance move.
We’re woken up by the bugle at 7.30am and ready for boys side Reveille at 7.45 on the basketball courts. This ‘meeting’ sets us up for the day with info on any special events and everything going on that day.
Then to breakfast, which includes a climb up the steepest hill in the world! Breakfast always includes an offer of cereal, toast, and a main dish (different each day) varying from pancakes (choc chip if you’re lucky!) and on special Sundays… bagels and doughnuts!
Time to get the bunk looking spotless. The kids make sure their areas of the bunk are clean and tidy, with each of them being responsible for a specific chore. Bunk inspection is rated out of 10, and usually in an attempt to get an extra bonus point my campers performed a dance or song for our division head. These performances are often but a 10 for effort is usually dished out. Then it’s time for activities!
The morning is split up into 3 activity periods. Our days are pretty structured in what the kids are doing to make sure they get involved in everything that camp has to offer. My camp is very big on sports, and have leagues set up amongst the age groups. These leagues are in Basketball, Baseball and Roller Hockey. The kids love getting involved, adding a bit of completion as well! General counsellors are appointed as ‘coaches’ to a team. I didn’t know too much about American sports, but this doesn’t matter because my job was to be a cheerleader ensuring everyone is having a good time!
Once again, it’s time for a trek up the steepest hill in the world for lunch. Lunch differs every day, and there’s always the option of the salad bar and bread if you just want a sandwich.
Rest hour is a chance for the kids, and most certainly the counsellors, to chill out and let lunch go down before afternoon activities. There will be a huge temptation to nap, which the kids can do, but counsellors have got to stay awake and be aware of everything going on.
The leagues continue in the afternoon depending on the age group. As well as leagues, scattered throughout the day are other general activities for the kids to get involved in. Every day, there will be at least 2 ‘elective’ periods where campers can choose what they want to do for that hour. The options range from tennis, soccer, arts & crafts, outdoor adventure, boating, water ski, or even their own suggestion of something to do.
Activities are then split by a snack period, where a counsellor will go to the Boys HQ and collect the snack for the day and bring it to the bunk. This usually consists of some sort of ice cream or even fruit.
Factored into every day at camp is an activity period at the pool. The weather at camp gets ridiculously hot, so a nice dip in the pool is always necessary to cool down and relax. This relaxation lasts for approximately 9 seconds.. Then if I’ve got the chance, I take some time to work on my front flip off the diving board….Never quite did get that right, to the amusement to many campers and lifeguards.
There’s time for one more activity period before dinner where the kids can once again choose what they want to do from all of the activities camp has to offer.
Just like in the morning, all of the boys on camp gather on the basketball course for an update on the day, and to remind us all what our evening activities are.
Dinner is usually the best, with meals on offer like Sloppy Joe’s or even Steak Strips! On steak day, everyone prays that your division is called first. Some days there’s a little competition/event that happens at the director’s table. This is usually at the expense of someone on this table, with games such as Egg Roulette being involved, where everyone takes it in turn to see which of the eggs in the carton is raw rather than boiled… by smashing it on their head. Once everyone’s eaten and the tables are tidied we’re ready for the next part of the day.
Once Free Play is over we’ve got a bit of time to get ready for evening activity. This is the time of the day to make sure the kids get showered, and to make sure they look good for all the girls for the evening! Counsellors can also use this chance to shower, but not before the campers.
In the evening, programming has finished and all sorts of different things happen throughout the summer. In some cases we’ll stay in our divisions do something like dodgeball or some other sport/activity. On other occasions, the whole camp will come together for events like the camper talent show, a production from the drama kids, and the pinnacle of camp evening activity… the end of summer dance! All of the kids and counsellors get dressed up looking their best for this event!
The younger kids will go straight back to their bunk after evening activity. My kids were a bit older so we got to go to canteen, where got a treat of candy or a fizzy drink in exchange for a canteen voucher. There’s also a pool table, table tennis and a few TVs dotted around the canteen room so the kids can chill out a bit before heading back to the bunk.
The final act of the day is to get the kids back to the bunk and get ready for bed. Pyjamas on, teeth cleaned and lights out at 10pm! If I’m on duty that night I can either go to bed and get some much needed sleep or chill outside of the bunk, while still making sure everyone stays asleep and not trying to sneak off to see their ‘girlfriends’ over on girls side. Once all of the kids are definitely asleep I’m not far behind and getting some well needed rest, ready for the next day to do it all over again!
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